Commentary

Raising Kane

An inside look at the Blackhawks' star off the ice

Originally Published: May 18, 2009
By Wayne Drehs | ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- He's one of the cornerstones of this city's hockey renaissance. Yet he looks like he's 12. He plays like there's nothing he can't do on the ice. Yet he's not even 6 feet tall. He can't go anywhere without being asked for an autograph. Yet he carries himself with the humility of a city sanitation worker.

[+] EnlargeJessica, Jacqueline, Patrick and Erica Kane
Courtesy the Kane FamilyJessica, Jacqueline, Patrick and Erica Kane before Patrick's first NHL game.
At 20 years old, Patrick Kane is one of the NHL's brightest stars. His hat trick in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals not only helped the Blackhawks advance, but it brought with it the national sports spotlight. And now, in the Western Conference finals against Detroit, everyone is expecting Patrick Kane to do great things.

And yet, at the end of the day, he's so much more than a hockey player, so much more than No. 88, the future of the Blackhawks. Ask him about the roles that matter most in his life and Kane surely will tell you son, friend and big brother. It's the reason his family was right there with him at the NHL draft, at his first NHL game and at last year's NHL awards.

So in the era of social networking, in the era of MySpace, Twitter and Facebook, here are 20 things you might not know about the Blackhawks' forward, one for each of Kane's 20 years. They come courtesy of Kane himself, as well as the people who have been there from the beginning: his mother, Donna; father, Pat; and three sisters -- Erica (20), Jessica (18) and Jacqueline (15).

1. He's exceptionally competitive.

"He wanted to have this handwriting contest one day," Erica said. "So we sit down, write our name five times, and all of the sudden he stands up and goes, 'All right, I win. I'm the best.' And he walks away."

[+] EnlargePatrick Kane and family
Courtesy the Kane FamilyPatrick Sr., Donna and their four children attend the 2008 NHL Awards.
2. One of his closest friends is his 83-year-old grandfather.

"They are very, very close," Donna Kane said. "They will sit outside and play cards, they'll sit on the deck and tell stories and they'll watch baseball and eat cheeseburgers together. I remember one time I went over there and Pat was napping on the couch and Grandpa was sleeping on the chair."

3. After his hat trick against Vancouver, he had 69 text messages waiting for him. One was from Jacqueline, and the two began going back and forth creating a Patrick Kane rap song. "It was pretty silly," Jacqueline said. "Something like, 'Oh Patrick, you just scored a hat trick. That Kane, he's so insane."

4. Growing up he was forced to play with dolls because it was the only way he could get his sisters to play sports.

"I'd be the dad and have to play house or whatever," he said. "It wasn't something I wanted to do, but I had to do it."

5. After doing his doll duty, Patrick would team up with Jacqueline for a 2-on-2 soccer battle against Erica and Jessica in the basement.

"They were a little more girlie girl so we'd dominate," Jacqueline said. "I remember we'd do the introductions, we'd flicker the lights on and off. We kept statistics on the wall. We won more than we lost. Sometimes my sisters quit."

[+] EnlargeJacqueline, Erika, Patrick and Jessica Kane
Courtesy the Kane FamilyPatrick brings a laugh to his three sisters, from left, Jacqueline, Erika and Jessica.
6. And when they did, Pat would make them pay.

"They'd be running up the stairs and I'd just whip the ball at their backs," Kane said. "They always knew that if they didn't want to play anymore that was fine. But the ball would soon be coming at them. Ahh, good memories."

7. Every time she visits in Chicago, Donna Kane still does her son's laundry. And cleans his house. "I'll do his wash and rip the sheets off the bed," Donna said. "His interest is hockey. He wants to play hockey. The other stuff will have its time and moment. So for now, I don't mind helping him out."

8. In Kane's new home, he currently has six pieces of furniture: two beds, three televisions and a sectional.

"Typical college kid," Donna said.

9. Kane has specific rules for when his sisters come to visit.

"It's hilarious," Erica said. "We have to obey his rules. Try to be quiet, if you have to go to the bathroom, go downstairs. Don't wake him up when he's sleeping. Stuff like that."

10. When the season is over, Kane will head home to Buffalo, where he stays with his parents and sleeps in the same bed, in the same bedroom, where he grew up.

"No matter what anyone else says, if you ask him he'll tell you Buffalo is still his home," Donna said.

[+] EnlargePatrick Kane
Bill Smith/Getty ImagesPatrick Kane sealed Chicago's trip to the West finals with his first career hat trick.
11. Once there, he'll cruise around town with Jacqueline before heading home and working on his moves.

"We'll just drive around the side streets and blast music, maybe go to McDonald's," Jacqueline said. "And then we'll go home and have a dance-off."

12. The majority of his summer, though, will be spent in his parent's backyard playing a game called "Keep it Up."

"You take those big bouncy balls, like the ones at K-Mart, and the idea is to hit the ball back and forth and keep it up as long as possible," Erica said. "We play for hours on end. And some of the saves people make, you laugh so hard. You look like an idiot."

13. When he's away from Buffalo, Pat calls home almost every night.

14. He never went to a prom.

"There was always a hockey game or a hockey tournament or something going on," Donna said. "I don't even think he ever went to a school dance."

15. He's very protective when it comes to his sisters, and he regularly gives them advice about dating.

"He tells us who's bad, who's good and who to stay away from," Jessica said. "He's a really good listener."

16. Despite his superstar status, he still acts like a kid. "My dad has these motorized scooters, and Pat will come home in the summer and just race these things up and down the street," Erica said. "He's just such a kid."

17. He loves a good practical joke. "He did this thing not long ago where he crawled into the bedroom at his house where my dad was watching television and then just jumped up and scared my dad to death," Jacqueline said.

18. He's learning to like shopping. "I remember a while back he wanted to buy something for each of us and my mom was like, 'Just give the girls money.' We didn't think he could handle shopping. But he went to Aldo and picked us all up a couple pairs of awesome shoes."

19. Less than an hour after his family dropped him off in Detroit to play junior hockey and chase his NHL dreams, Pat tried to quit.

"I told him, 'Pat, we're not quitters. We've never been quitters. We made a commitment to a team and an organization and a family, and we can't just walk away without trying it.' It was a tough couple of months," Donna said, "but we got through it."

20. Despite leaving home at 14, he's learned that family is everything. "My dad was asking me the other day if it would have been nice to have a younger brother, someone I could teach a few things and could also make a big splash," Kane said. "But honestly, I wouldn't have had it any other way. I would never change a thing. I wouldn't be here without them."

Wayne Drehs is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at wayne.drehs@espn3.com.

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